Saturday, September 20, 2008

Introduction to the Underground.

Sept. 16 –

On our way out of town we ran some errands: groceries for all, new shoes for me after receiving Steve’s blessing during his visit, gas for Tawny.

Next stop, Mayhew Cabin & John Brown’s Cave in Nebraska City, NE. This was the girls first real introduction to the Underground Railroad. Before we arrived, I gave them a little history. They knew about the slave trade, but we hadn’t discussed it at length. We talked about the penalties for attempting to escape, or helping someone in such an effort, then the underground movement. The Mayhew Cabin and caves are a reconstruction of the real deal in this spot so many years ago.
Then it was on to a more pleasant and purely entertaining stop at Arbor Day Farms, owned by the Arbor Day Foundation. We took the tractor-pulled wagon tour around the property which includes countless apple trees (many heirloom varieties saved as a “bank” of seeds), experimental walnut groves, wood lots and more. For those of you considering a visit here, while the property is beautiful, I’m not certain the “Discovery Ride” is really worth the extra cost. Then we explored the trails, treehouses and, best of all, the outdoor classroom. The girls decorated one treehouse with scarves – E made hammocks for us all and I created a hammock “roof” for her intended long-term stay. There were natural art areas, a small water play area that would be great for the preschool set, and wooden marimbas that caused more than a few adults to pause, too.

With the help of that Free Camping guide, we found ourselves at a Nebraska State Fishing Lake just outside Verdon, NE. We are just off the two-lane highway and we can hear the train across the little lake, but the park is otherwise relatively quiet. There’s a playground, plenty of tree shade, fire rings and picnic tables. The pit toilets do the trick.

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